Top Chechnya Official Killed in Rebel Attack

Published April 13th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Chechen rebels killed a top pro-Russian administrator in a daring bomb attack on a television studio, claiming their most senior assassination victim since the start of 18-month separatist war, the Kremlin said Friday. 

Chechnya's pro-Moscow administration chief Akhmad Kadyrov immediately blamed rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov for the murder of his deputy Adam Deniyev, who died from head wounds after the bomb blast late Thursday. 

Deniyev, a well-known member of Chechnya's anti-separatist establishment, was targeted by a rebel explosion at a television studio in Avtury, 30 kilometers (18 miles) southeast of Grozny, where he was giving an interview, the Kremlin said. 

A studio cameraman at the television station was also wounded in the blast that happened at 9:18 pm (1718 GMT) Thursday, according to the office of President Vladimir Putin's chief spokesman on Chechnya, Sergei Yastrzhembsky. 

The 41-year-old official "was killed by a terrorist attack," the Kremlin told AFP. 

Deniyev, a long-standing critic of Chechen separatist President Maskhadov, is the most high-profile figure to be killed by rebel fighters as part of concerted assassination strategy targeting pro-Moscow leaders. 

Islamic rebels have publicly boasted of a death list containing the names of top officials in Chechnya appointed by the Russian government and therefore regarded as traitors by separatist fighters. 

Deniyev, a prominent Islamic theologian, was killed live on air while reciting a chapter of the Koran traditionally read by Muslims on Thursday nights, Russian media reported. 

Kadyrov, himself a victim of several failed assassination attempts, reacted angrily to Deniyev's murder Friday, pinning the blame on his arch foe Maskhadov. 

"This is another act of terrorism. They have killed somebody who was trying every means possible to restore normal life to Chechnya," Kadyrov told the state-run RTR television channel. 

He said that Deniyev was a prized target owing to his vocal opposition to the rebel leader, adding: "Maskhadov had threatened him, just as he had threatened me. 

"We are going to try and find out who perpetrated this act, because it is known that Maskhadov who ordered this assassination," Kadyrov said. 

Since his appointment last June, Kadyrov, the former mufti (Islamic leader) of the separatist republic, has survived repeated assassination attempts by Chechen rebels who have placed a price on his head. 

But while rebels have killed numerous local and regional officials in the war-torn republic, the bomb attack on Deniyev is the first time they have successfully targeted the highest level of Chechnya's central administration. 

Deniyev first came to public notice during the first Chechen war in 1994-96 when he emerged as an opponent of former separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev, who was killed in April 1996. 

A key figure in the anti-separatist Chechen Diaspora after he opted for self-imposed exile in 1996, Deniyev ran for election as State Duma deputy for Chechnya in August 2000 but came second. 

In addition to his other duties, Deniyev was Kadyrov's special envoy to the Middle East and Africa, where he was charged with raising funds for Chechnya among Muslim states -- MOSCOW (AFP) 

 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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